Outback Encounters

The wind is blowing a gale.

Apparently August is known for it’s forceful winds.

Some one should’ve told me before I decided to cycle long stretches of road through barren desert country… But anyway, I’ve found out.

And sometimes the wind seems to be favorable. Mostly though, not so.

All I can do is struggle on and on and on.

One man recently asked; Do you ever wonder why the hell you’re doing this?

I thought a little and came to the conclusion that I do not. It is what I do and that is it. Wind or no wind. And I love it!

Other interesting words of wisdom I’ve heard include:

“You’re cycling? Ah… that’s just a flash way of walking,

“I didn’t think you would be a vegetarian… you look too strong…”,

“For some one, doing trips like that, you seem fairly normal…'”And;

“You are a very strong woman… son.”

Australia is one massive wonderful campsite. And because it’s usually my bike, tent & me, I’ve got a fair few pictures of those subjects. Following some of my favorite camp spots in the past few weeks;

Cycling down towards Eulo several firetrucks came my way and siren-ed me. They weren’t just randomly riding about, the previous night the convenience store burned down.

No doubt very in-convenient for the owner, but also for a group of 120 rally people who just happened to stop off in town, and me.
Rally’s seem to be a popular and fun way to raise money for charities. In this case a Adelaide-based football club was driving up to the Gold Coast in beaten up little old cars on tracks as rough as you can imagine.

It was rather handy that I happened to camp at the same spot and so got to eat with them in the town hall. After a night of fun and games I moved on to the next, and last, town in Queensland.

Stocking up on supplies there I ran into two Dutch-girls one of whom happened to live out this way on a property with her husband, in-laws and three young kids.

If I would like to stay for a night… How can you say no to that? (I did try, but quickly changed my mind..)

Noccundra has a pub and an air strip.
And that’s about all. Some people go there by car, some fly. And at least two that I know about cycled out there.

People often instantly get really generous and friendly when you arrive on a pushbike. And so it happened that my bill was ‘taken care off’ that night in this remote pub.

I got talking to a crew of road workers, they were improving the road I was heading out on. An ongoing job since the road regularly gets destroyed by floods and the like. I was welcome to come and stay for a night… I did, a night around the campfire and a perfectly cooked steak. Yum, such a good change from noodles.

In the morning I was given one of their work-shirts signed by the whole crew 🙂

I think it’s been a fantastic idea by who ever came up with it to plant pubs in complete random spots all over this country. Nothing like a cold beer at the end of the day.

Camerons corner is another one of those. Right at the place where NSW, Queensland and South Australia meet, a friendly place with interesting characters…

Right on the border runs the 5.400km long Dog fence, first constructed in the early 1900’s to try and keep dingo’s and wild dogs out of properties. I wasn’t totally sure what side they’re supposed to stay on since I’ve seen a fair few wild dogs (alive and dead) on either side of this fence. Still. An impressive structure.

So now, all that separated me from the Strzelecki-track ( indeed, try pronounce that…) Were 250 sand dunes. Approximately. I have no problem with dunes, I tried to convince people in the pub, who warned me that they’re real steep and real high.

As it turned out I did not have a problem with the incline, or the hight… It is the sand that got me…

I couldn’t even lift my bike with the weight I was carrying now, let alone get it up a steep sandy dune. I screamed like some tennis-playing-girl trying to push through while happy couples in 4WD’s passed me blowing all sand in my face. Some of them asked if I was alright and if I had enough water. Yes, water I did have. About 20liters…. That’s why the bike is so freaking heavy!

I considered off-loading all my gear and carrying it all up the dunes…. Just when I thought I couldn’t get much further Henri, from Bollards station overtook me. We met in the pub the night before and he thought he’d come and check how I’m doing. Since that wasn’t all too excellent we chucked the whole lot on the back of his ute and he helped me across the worst part of road. Very grateful I excepted a couple of beers before moving on and pitching my tent in (yet another) beautiful spot.

While cycling down this empty landscape I crossed the route of Burke, Wills and King. They had set off from Adelaide with camels and horses 151 years ago this month to discover the interior.

Unlike me they didn’t carry maps, followed roads and had a spot-messenger in case of emergency… They tried to get to the golf of Carpentia leaving a camp behind to wait for them for three months. When, after 4,5 months there was still no sign of the three explorers the camp was packed up and it was assumed the men had perished. In the mean time Burke, Wills and King had just missed the Gulf by a couple of days and made it back to camp the exact same day it was packed up. By now they were too weak to catch up, there was a message telling them to ‘dig’ a few supplies were left there for them…  Desperately they tried to get to Mount Hopeless, but couldn’t find it. Can’t blame them, even cycling along the road, with Mount Hopeless marked on my map I still missed it…

Burks & Wills both died not too far from where I am. King was looked after by natives and finally made it back alive.

One frosty morning I got on  my bike and hadn’t cycled 1km yet when a figure appeared on the side of the road.

Here is Neill, and if all those people think I’m mad… Neill is walking! Actually without bicycle or engine. Two legs and one trolley wich he drags behind him. We had a quick yarn at the roadside and wandered about the chance in this big huge country just camping 1km apart…

Neill kept walking and I set off in the opposite direction.

About midday I saw a big red truck appear.

That same truck had stopped the previous day to see if I needed a ride into town.

That I didn’t need, but I wouldn’t mind a cold coke if he had one (I know ALL truck drivers have cold cans of coke in their little fridges, the things you learn huh) So he gave me one and stopped on his way back to give me another. Sweet.

The day I tried to get to Lyndhurst from my last little campsite the wind was so fierce I worried I wasn’t going to make it. So I called in at the first house I’ve seen in the last 4ookm to fill up on water.

It just so happened that Joe and Frog had organized a little party this same evening. So I couldn’t let the chance to sing bush ballads around the camp fire pass me by… I ended up staying so no need to fill up the bottles after all. But sharing of stories and had a shower!

Next day I stuck around to check out an ancient camelyard and have a look around the old shearingsheds. In the old days camel trains moved up and down these tracks to get supplies out to the stations and wool back to the towns.

Now it’s time to keep going,

so this I will do…

8 thoughts on “Outback Encounters

  1. Leuk om nu ook de foto’s te zien van de omgeving die we de afgelopen weken via de ‘spots’ vanuit de lucht al hadden bekeken.
    Pittige rit, zo te zien (lezen). En weer geweldige ontmoetingen!
    Ga je zo meteen even proberen te bellen. Nog in Lyndhurst?
    In ieder geval een hele goeie verdere reis, liefs!

    pap & mam.

  2. Way to go girl!

    I take my hat off to you cycling around Oz. It must seem like eternity to get from A to B in a day, but the beauty of it all is that you have the most picturesque scenery each night as you camp out after your long ride and getting to meet some great outback characters.

  3. Fantastisch om je verhalen te lezen en de prachtige foto’s te bekijken.
    Ik vind het erg dapper dat je zo doorzet. Je beleeft prachtige avonturen.
    Goede reis en tot de volgende keer.
    Groetjes van Heleen Smit (moeder van Berthus)

  4. Rocking the Big Sky Country Mirjam! Looks awesome. Love the characters you’re meeting, come back through in 40 years and they’ll be singing ballads round the campfire about a wee Dutch girl travelling around on her bike. xx

  5. Hoi Mir,
    leuk weer te zien en lezen hoe het gaat; hard werken zo te zien!
    Geniet ervan, hier alles goed,
    groetjes Karin

  6. have just read an email from friends who met you Algebuckina Bridge and so decided to read about you. We travelled oz in relative comfort car and caravan. You are amazing.

  7. Hi Mirjam,
    Nice to see you back cycling in Australia. You met me at Miena (Tasmania) and shared half a swim and a full cup of tea at nearby Great Lake. You were to cycle a similar route to me the next day and I wonder if you found the much smaller pine lagoon up on Tassie’s plateau. Of course you were heading back to SA to Peter’s memorial service on march 5.
    I’m currently working at home in Adelaide heading to Tassie with my bike again at the start of November.
    It would be great to cycle with you again.
    xx Graeme kicyclist@yahoo.com

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